Snowbird Season Comes To An End

As Teresa Swift walked up the first fairway at Tramark Golf Club, the Michigan woman talked about her annual snowbird adventure. "We golf almost everyday," she said. "And we love the walking."

For the Swifts, four months of coast golf is a great way to spend the winter. "Oh it's beautiful," Floyd Swift said. "A little cool, but right now it's a lot better than it is in northern Michigan."

This winter, the Swifts paid $125 a month to play golf at the Gulfport course. The Michigan couple agreed with course managers who said the 2001 snowbird season had its ups and downs. Mrs. Swift said "that from almost the middle of February through the end of March, they're crowded. Starting April first, you can play anytime of the day that you want."

Too many open tee times in April and May is a problem the Gulf Coast Golf Association thinks it can fix. The golf courses are putting together a new marketing campaign that they hope will extend both the beginning and the end of the snowbird season.

Joel Gann heads the golf association. He said the plan is to "go outside the traditional boundaries. Go a little east and a little west of the midwest and try to expose our value as a value destination."

The value is why three Canadian golfers took a swing at a coast golf vacation instead of a spring trip to Florida. John Bradshaw found the deal on the internet. He said, "The quality of the courses here is excellent. I think we'll be back. It's quite encouraging."

And that's encouraging news for the coast golf industry, as it tries to get more players to its tee boxes.

The Gulf Coast Golf Association is hoping its money can be combined with money from the hotel motel association and the Harrison County Tourism Commission to bring more golfers to the area.

by Brad Kessie